Asus Rampage III Extreme Motherboard Review

Manufacturer: Asus
UK Price (as Reviewed): £329.99 (inc. VAT)
US Price (as Reviewed): $379.99 (ex. Tax)

The Rampage III Extreme (hereafter referred to as the R3E) is the latest model in Asus’ Republic of Gamers (RoG) series. As the Extreme part of the name indicates, the R3E is a board for extreme overclockers. Few RoG boards of late have been especially desirable, although the Rampage II Gene stands out as a wonderful micro-ATX motherboard among some otherwise forgettable boards.

Unlike the Rampage II Gene, the R3E is a full-sized motherboard. In fact, at 269mm deep, it’s actually slightly larger than a standard ATX board. As such, the R3E is more of a replacement for 2009’s disappointing Rampage II Extreme. Like that board, the new R3E is based around the Intel X58 chipset, so it supports all LGA1366 CPUs, including the brutally fast and expensive 6-core Core i7-980X Extreme Edition.

You’ll find all the usual X58 features on the R3E, such as six DDR3 memory sockets, a multitude of expansion slots, SATA 3Gbps ports and USB 2 ports.

Asus Rampage III Extreme Motherboard ReviewClick to enlarge

Asus has also added a small NEC chip to provide two USB 3 ports, and an even smaller Marvell 9128 chip that powers two SATA 6Gbps ports that are tucked away towards the front edge of the PCB. Each of these controllers is connected to the Southbridge via a single PCI-E 2.0 lane, which is fine for the USB 3 controller, but 150MB/sec shy of the 750MB/sec of which the SATA 6Gbps standard is capable. A JMicron JMB363 chip provides another SATA 3Gbps port and an eSATA port.

While the R3E sports four 16x PCI-E slots, using four graphics cards means that they receive only eight lanes of PCI-E 2.0 bandwidth each. With three cards, the slot nearest to the CPU socket will have 16 lanes and the next two slots eight lanes each. A pair of cards will receive 16 lanes of bandwidth each.

The R3E is certified for both standard and 3-way SLI, plus up to four cards in CrossFireX. There’s also a single 4x PCI-E slot, plus a PCI slot.

Asus Rampage III Extreme Motherboard ReviewClick to enlarge

Unlike a lot of RoG boards, the R3E doesn’t have a separate sound card, but relies on a Realtec ALC889 audio codec. This is equipped with a full set of analogue jacks, plus an optical S/PDIF output.
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